REAL ISSUES

Gov. Perry to Chop 4 Texas Agencies

January 8, 2011

Rick Perry wants to chop 4 Texas agencies

Governor set to make State of the State in Austin

Jay Root, Associated Press

governor-perry-to-chop-4-texas-agencies

Governor Perry's making hard decisions regarding one of the leanest budget proposals in history as a result of a $27 billion deficit.

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry will ask the Legislature on Tuesday to indefinitely suspend funding for four Texas agencies and consolidate the functions of dozens more as part of a sweeping budget plan that would make deep spending reductions across state government.

Funding for the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Commission on the Arts would be eliminated altogether, according to a summary of Perry’s top government efficiency proposals obtained by The Associated Press ahead of Perry’s State of the State address on Tuesday.

Those two agencies, which provide funding for the promotion of Texas arts and culture and the upkeep of state historic structures, were given over $100 million in the previous budget when bond proceeds and federal dollars are counted.

Two smaller agencies, the Board of Professional Geoscientists and the Board of Professional Land Surveying — which oversee licensing requirements for people in those professions — would also disappear under a list of “suspensions/consolidations” that will accompany the governor’s budget proposal to the Legislature, documents obtained by the AP show. Those agencies got about $2.4 million to spend in the current budget.

Taken together, the proposals to zero out funding for some agencies while consolidating others would save the state about $50 million. That’s a tiny fraction of the multibillion dollar budget shortfall confronting lawmakers this year, but it marks a significant departure from what other Republican leaders are discussing.

Perry’s office declined to discuss in detail the governor’s policy initiatives ahead of his speech scheduled for Tuesday morning in theTexas House of Representatives. But spokesman Mark Miner said the governor would talk about “streamlining government and making it more efficient.”

“State government must live within its means,” Miner said.

Texas is facing a budget shortfall of at least $15 billion. Republican leaders from Perry on down are vowing not to raise any new taxes to make up the shortfall. Like the draft budgets already released in the House and Senate, Perry will propose billions of dollars in cuts that would make dramatic reductions touching every corner of the state budget.

There will be plenty of give-and-take before the Legislature concludes its regular session at the end of May. But Perry’s bureaucratic streamlining proposals represent a different approach from draft proposals being debated in the two chambers.

Besides the four agencies that would go away, Perry would target at least 21 agencies for consolidation and put their responsibilities into 11. He would put the Texas Facilities Commission, which oversees government buildings, into the General Land Office, for example.

Perry would also create a new Health Professions Agency, and fold into it a variety of agencies that oversee health professionals — including the Texas Medical Board, the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the Texas Board of Nursing and the Board of Dental Examiners.

The governor traditionally submits a budget to the Legislature every year, but they are under no obligation to enact any of it. The governor’s main budgetary authority comes from his veto power, including “line-item” discretion to zero out specific spending proposals.

“The governor doesn’t talk about any kind of vetoes until the end of the session,” said Miner, the Perry spokesman. “It’s premature to talk about vetoes until something hits his desk.”

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Posted by on Feb 8 2011. Filed under Jobs/Economy, Texas, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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